News / Science & Technology

Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killers

Online Watchdog Allows for Real-Time Forest Protectioni
X
February 26, 2014 8:35 PM
The world's trees is disappearing at an alarming rate - 2.5 million square kilometers since 2000 - or the equivalent of 50 soccer fields a minute. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports a powerful forest management computer tool has been designed to access reliable real time information to stem those losses and target criminal activity.
Online Watchdog Allows for Real-Time Forest Protection
Rosanne Skirble
A powerful new online forest monitoring system is the latest tool in the fight against deforestation.

The world's tree cover is disappearing at an alarming rate - 2.5 million square kilometers since 2000, the equivalent of 50 football [soccer] fields every minute of every day - because of fire, illegal logging and land gobbled up by farms, mining and oil operations. By the time these activities are discovered, it is often too late to do anything about them, much less determine who is at fault.

Enter Global Forest Watch, created by the World Resources Institute and 40 partner groups. WRI president Andrew Steer says it's a game changer.

“It is possible to bring for the first time ever really, real-time data at a very local level to everybody in the world," he said. "And that is what Global Forest Watch is all about.”
This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para.Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by 2,000 square kilometers a year with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows a deforested area near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para.Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by 2,000 square kilometers a year with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.
The program embeds key information into high resolution satellite images in a simple-to-use interactive website, says WRI’s Nigel Sizer, who heads the initiative.

“If you can use a Google map to find a friend’s house, then you can use Global Forest Watch to understand what is happening to forests in your community, across your country or even on the other side of the world and then take action,” Sizer said.

Mapping supply chains

Deforestation in the tropics is increasing by about 2,000 square kilometers a year according to WRI, with half that loss in Brazil and Indonesia.

Sizer says Global Forest Watch can help slow that down.

“It allows the government to focus their enforcement efforts in areas where illegal forest clearing is taking place," he said.
The border between Malaysia and Indonesia stands out in the Landsat-based map of forest disturbance. Red pixels represent forest loss between 2000 and 2012.The border between Malaysia and Indonesia stands out in the Landsat-based map of forest disturbance. Red pixels represent forest loss between 2000 and 2012.
International companies like Nestles and Unilever have pledged not use raw materials for their products that contribute to deforestion.

"They are saying, 'We are going to use Global Forest Watch so that we know which of our suppliers are doing a good job and which ones are doing a bad job,'" Sizer said.

NASA has been collecting high-resolution satellite images of the earth since 1973, and when it made the archive public in 2008, it gave scientists the ability to assess changes in the Earth's landscape.

For Global Forest Watch, Google deployed the computing power of its Earth Engine technology to turn the latest 12 years of data into an interactive map, easily available to everyone everywhere. What would have taken a single computer 15 years, took Google just a couple of days.

Powered by Google

Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine manager Rebecca Moore says the aim is to bridge an information gap.

“The science exists. The data exists, but the amount of data that is required, satellite image data, to actually have an accurate detailed current picture of the world’s forests; it is quadrillions of pixels," Moore said. "It is billions of megabytes of data. No one has ever been able to store, much less analyze, that data before.”

LISTEN: TV Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killers
TV Google Technology Powers Online Effort to Catch World's Forest Killersi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The satellite images are so detailed, it is possible to determine whether a section of forest has been logged, burned or felled by disease. Moore says users can take pictures of what happens on the ground and add to the database.

"You can follow the license plate on that truck with the illegal logs on the Trans Amazon Highway," she said. "That automatically can get uploaded into Global Forest Watch and support law enforcement."

Moore calls the potential of the combining the satellite images with the ground reality, all powered by the Internet, "unprecedented.”

Empowering indigenous people

No one hungers for this information more than Ecuadoran Juan Carlos Jintiach, who coordinates dialogue among native peoples and governments in nine Amazon basin countries. He says what they learn from Global Forest Watch will advance that conversation.

“It is a simple way to share our voice and histories," Jintiach said. "For the first time, using Global Forest Watch, we can easily upload alerts and photos for the entire world to see when encroachment happens in our forests and to monitor those lands in real time.”

Jintiach says the next step is to mobilize people to put the new tool to work to protect the world’s forests before it is too late.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid